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Virgin To Boost Rock Station With Live Output

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Virgin Radio is to boost the appeal of its classic rock station with the addition of live programming, a move designed to increase audiences and create a more tangible station identity.

The content change will see Gordon Loncaster join Richard Skinner in becoming the first voices to be heard on the digital station when live programming commences on 27 June 2005.

Loncaster joins the station with nearly a decade's radio and TV experience, moving fromm a regional rock station in the Midlands, the transition will see him work with Skinner, as well as Virgin Radio stalwarts Russ Williams and Leona Graham.

Loncaster will host Virgin Radio Classic Rock's afternoon show every weekday from 2pm until 6pm, following on from Richard Skinner, on air from 10am until 2pm. The show eill mix the greatest songs from the biggest rock bands with his encyclopedic knowledge of the genre, with playlisted artists including . Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Aerosmith, Bob Dylan, The Who and the Rolling Stones.

"There is a real vibe and commitment to the music at Virgin Radio Classic Rock," said Loncaster. "They have a real hunger which is rare, and something I need to work with. I'm feeling really match fit and can't wait to get started as the music is just totally me. In fact, I was breast fed on Robert Plant. No really. We're still very close."

Virgin hopes to position Classic Rock as the genre's leading station, with the added investment in programming designed to boost audiences and build a strong reputation.

Paul Jackson, acting chief executive at Virgin Radio explained: "Virgin Radio Classic Rock is the station that millions of people across the UK are dying to hear. Nowhere else is a quality, credible rock station delivered by such a talented team dedicated to the music which is underplayed on national radio. Gordon is a key signing to the team and brings passion, knowledge and humour to the station. I am confident that his shows will become unmissable and drive our figures even higher."

Classic Rock saw its weekly reach slip slightly in the three months to March, losing 3% period on period compared to the last three months of 2004. The station now commands a weekly reach of 160,000. However, the station's average hours per listener have increased by 26.1% in the same period, with listeners proving loyal to the station and listening for longer to notch up an average of 5.8 hours per week.

Virgin recently signed Xfm's breakfast host, Christian O'Connell, to present the morning show on its flagship station, Virgin Radio, taking over from Pete and Geoff who announced their departure from the high-profile slot last month (see Virgin Signs O'Connell As New Breakfast Host).

Virgin Radio: 020 7434 1215 www.virginradio.co.uk

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